May 9, 2022

Sweet Caroline-a

Those who frequent McMahon Stadium to cheer on the Stampeders know all about the well-documented game-day traditions.

Pre-game tailgating in the parking lot.

Quick Six running down the sideline after every home-team touchdown.

A Sweet Caroline second-half sing-a-long.

While most Red and White loyalists are more than familiar with experiencing those beloved rituals, not all of them have had the chance.

Stamps diehard Ken Childs, all the way from Durham, North Carolina, is exactly one month away from crossing them off his bucket list.

Childs will be making the solo trip to Calgary for the team’s regular-season home-opener on June 9, marking his inaugural trip to Cowtown, first time in Canada and initial exposure to a live CFL game.

Growing up in Western Massachusetts, Childs fell in love with the Stamps when Boston College icon Doug Flutie joined the club back in 1992.

“Growing up as a kid in New England, I was a big Doug Flutie fan as a lot of kids in New England were,” said Childs. “I would see in the newspaper stuff about what he was doing in the CFL when he made the move to Calgary and started playing for the Stamps. Once in a while we would get games on ESPN because he was a big name in the States. Also, the first Olympics that made an impression on me as a kid were the 1988 Olympics in Calgary. So it was a combination of things that really led me to being a Stamps fan.”

Single-game tickets went on sale for the team last Thursday, and Childs didn’t waste any time securing his seat. In fact, he’ll be as close as possible to the action, managing to snag a literal front-row seat.

“I was sitting there waiting for them to be on sale,” explained Childs. “I was debating going to a later game in the season but decided that if I’m going to my first Stamps game and it’s going to be at McMahon Stadium, why not the home opener? Short of a playoff game or a game against the Elks over Labour Day weekend, this is really about the biggest game you can go to. So if I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it right. I bought the ticket, booked a flight and got a hotel right near the Stadium. I have it all ready to go and I’m really excited about it.”

Although the plan has been in the works for quite some time, there are a couple notable reasons as to why the time is finally right for Childs. Travel restrictions have eased, and the game also happens to be right around his birthday.

“As a CFL fan in North Carolina, just being around many other CFL fans is going to be a huge thing for me,” said Childs, surely with a smile you could almost see despite being the other end of the phone. “I’ve never been around other Stamps fans during a Stamps game. But the cool thing is that with the internet and Twitter and Facebook and Instagram, it’s allowed me to connect with a lot of folks that are fans. But I’ve never been to a game or been able to watch a game with other people who know what’s going on. It’s going to be a whole new thing for me.”

As you might expect, tuning into the action from 3,254 kilometres – or 2,022 miles – isn’t always easy. But that hasn’t stopped Childs. Not even close.

“Here in the States we usually have one game a week on ESPN2 and then everything else is through the online streaming on ESPN+,” began Childs. “During the baseball season, I’m a big Durham Bulls fan and have season tickets there, so a lot of times if there’s a Stamps game on while I’m at a Triple-A baseball game, you’ll see me with the Stamps game on my phone.”

And soon you’ll see him at a Stamps game in person.